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After the planning hoo-ha that saw Chipperfield’s original proposals dropped, Wright & Wright has delivered a major expansion that visitors may not even notice, writes Richard Gatti
“I think it’s going to work well as a museum without making a big fuss.”
That’s Clare Wright, partner at Wright & Wright Architects, on the refurbished Museum of the Home in east London, due to reopen on 12 June. The £18m project undertaken by her practice upgrades the existing buildings and gardens, adds gallery and events spaces and a library, as well as relocating the entrance. It’s not that Wright & Wright have been unambitious. Rather their aim is to stitch the city back together by working with the fragments already there – to make an impact without creating icons.
What is now a museum was originally built as almshouses in 1714, as part of a bequest from the estate of English merchant Sir Robert Geffrye, who was master of the Worshipful Company of Ironmongers and lord mayor of London. The almshouses form a U shape, with two side wings almost but not quite touching a longer bar that is centred on a chapel. The slightly proud chapel is surmounted by a statue of Sir Robert – though as at least some of his fortune was derived from the slave trade, its future is subject to ongoing discussions between staff, trustees, funders and the local community.
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